Where Do Rabbits Nest?

© Robert Adamec/Shutterstock.com

Written by Hannah Ward

Published: November 24, 2023

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Rabbits are small animals that are popular pets, but they are also incredibly common in the wild. They live on every continent except Antarctica and exist in a wide variety of habitats, including grasslands, forests, deserts, and wetlands. Shelter is important to rabbits as they need to have a safe place to live where they are away from predators. However, have you ever wondered where rabbits nest? Read on to find out!

Where Are Rabbits Nests?

Wild rabbit in a burrow

Rabbits live in burrows which are often close to trees and bushes.

©Chaturong Krirkkriangkrai/Shutterstock.com

Rabbits nest in burrows which are underground tunnels that provide warmth and shelter.

Most rabbits dig their own burrows, although some species may look for existing cavities on the ground that have already been excavated by other animals, such as woodchucks. A series of connected burrows are known as warrens and may be used as communal spaces for a large number of rabbits to live together. These burrows can be up to 10 feet deep and up to 150 feet long.

When looking for somewhere to create their nest, rabbits typically choose areas that have plenty of cover, such as areas close to trees or bushes or in long grass. Sometimes there may be a visible hole in the ground, but other times the entrance may be covered with dead grass and leaves. If the rabbit is not a species that digs its own burrow, then the rabbit nest itself may simply be a depression in the ground which is covered with the aforementioned grass and leaves.

When it comes to giving birth, litters are typically born in shallow burrows or cavities. The female rabbit will often pull out pieces of her own fur from her belly to line the nest, ready to give birth to her young. Other materials that rabbits use to line their nests include grass and leaves. Female rabbits don’t actually spend a lot of time in the nest with their young, and instead only visit it a few times per day to feed them. One of the key reasons for this is that it lowers the risk of predators noticing the juveniles and therefore helps to keep them safe.

Social Behavior

A couple of wild rabbits playing on the field

Rabbits are social animals and live in large groups.

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Rabbits are highly social animals and often live in large groups, and a large warren can be home to as many as 50 rabbits at any one time. These larger colonies are often divided into several smaller groups, and rabbits will often interact only with their own social group.

Rabbits also have a strict hierarchy, with males typically being dominant over the females. The dominant male within each group will often patrol his own territory, and the others in the group will usually be submissive towards him. However, both the males and the females are often aggressive towards the younger members of the group and will assert their dominance over them.

The groups tend to consist of several females, a dominant male, and lower-ranking males. Rabbits don’t live in typical family groups, and when the juvenile rabbits are weaned they are left on their own to establish their own home and life away from their mother. Rabbits are fully weaned at around three weeks old and are sexually mature at around three months old. They usually produce three or four litters per year, and these can consist of between three and eight individuals.

Where and When Can You See Rabbits?

female rabbit

Rabbits are crepuscular and are most active at dawn and dusk.

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Rabbits are active all year round which means that you can see them out and about in every season. However, rabbits are typically more active during the early morning and early evening — dawn and dusk. This means that they are crepuscular rather than being nocturnal or diurnal. They typically come out during these times to forage and eat a variety of different grasses and plants.

Rabbits are extremely common animals and live right across the contiguous United States. Although there are 29 species of rabbits in the world and around eight of them in the US, the most common rabbits in the country are eastern cottontails. There are several species of cottontail rabbits and they are named for the distinctive white underside of their tail. Although this is not present on every cottontail species, it is present on the eastern cottontail. Eastern cottontails also have reddish-brown to brownish-gray fur and usually reach 14 to 19 inches long.

Rabbits are a popular game species in the United States and are regularly hunted for both sport and meat. Although there are no official rankings of which state has the most rabbits, Missouri is often regarded as having the highest numbers, followed closely by Kansas. Missouri, in particular, records that there are around 300,000 rabbits caught every year within the state.

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About the Author

Hannah is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, marine life, mammals, and geography. Hannah has been writing and researching animals for four years alongside running her family farm. A resident of the UK, Hannah loves riding horses and creating short stories.

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